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Early school start times leave our teenagers sleep deprived

Almost two years ago to the day I wrote about a school that changed its start time from 7.25am to 8am and saw math SAT results rise 56 points and verbal SAT scores rise 156 points. More recently, a school in the UK changed its start time and saw similar improvements.

Paul Kelley, school principal of Monkseaton school in the North East of England, moved the timetable so that classes started at 10am and saw exam results improve by up to 30%.

This is perhaps unsurprising since the latest research suggests that the body clocks of teenagers lags behind those of younger children and adults by a few hours. Apparently, melatonin kicks in two hours later in adolescence whilst hormones that help keep us alert also fall behind. It's thought that the natural sleep period for teenagers is from midnight to 9am - so for most, they are going to school when they should still be asleep.

It's worth mentioning that principal Kelley also installed a huge skylight on the school's roof, exposing students to an increase in exposure to light - another factor linked to sleep health (and academic achievement) in teenagers.

Unfortunately, simply changing school start times is easier said than done (it took Kelley over six years of planning for his school alone). That being said, it would appear that if schools want to improve the academic achievement (and sleep health) of their pupils, starting school a little later in the morning and allowing more light into classrooms could be a significant help.

Source: Independent

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Last updated: April 27, 2016

This Article Was Written By

Martin Reed

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